Weltmeister EX5: first electric car from $1 billion Chinese company you've never heard of


Weltmeister EX5

Weltmeister EX5

Enlarge Photo

After numerous positions with BorgWarner, Fiat Group, Volvo, and China's largest automaker Geely, an executive named Freeman Shen has finally rolled out his own creation.

That is the Weltmeiser EX5, the product of $1 billion in first-round funding from some of the largest players in Chinese tech. Shen's company, WM Motor, claims it will start taking orders for the electric car as early as April.

Despite its name, WM Motor's Weltmeister is Chinese, but its German name—which means "world champion" in English—is intended to reflect "the rising challenge to traditional carmakers from startup companies," according to Reuters.

DON'T MISS: Why China will beat U.S. in electric-car battle: urgency, regulations

During the reveal of the EX5 electric SUV last week, Shen told Reuters his company plans to begin production in the second quarter of 2018, with first deliveries in the second half of the same year.

The EX5 will sell for under 300,000 yuan (approximately $45,000).

Shen's name may sound familiar to auto-industry insiders. He sat on the board of directors for Geely, China's largest automaker, during that company's purchase and integration of Swedish carmaker Volvo.

Weltmeister EX5 interior

Weltmeister EX5 interior

Enlarge Photo

After the takeover, he became Senior Vice President of Volvo Car Corporation and also acted as Chairman for Volvo Car Group China.

After leaving Geely and Volvo, Shen launched WM Motor in 2015.

Last year, his new company was caught up in a momentary media controversy when it's alleged the company disseminated a series of questionable renderings of its future lineup.

READ MORE: China electric-car rules to start in 2019; aggressive totals are world's highest

English-language media quickly pointed out those images were actually Photoshopped images based on the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

In response, WM Motor denied it had distributed the images, even though Chinese media had run them for more than a week without any correction from the startup.

At the press conference, Shen stated the company plans to introduce three electric vehicles by 2020 and aims to sell 100,000 cars per year within three to four years of its launch of the EX5.

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